Incredible insight into the Royal Opera House

royal Opera House (2)-w500-h500‘What a huge, logistical operation,’ is the impression that Market Harborough WI members left with this evening after a superb talk by Chloe Miller Smith, daughter of Committee member Annabel Smith.

Chloe joined the Royal Opera House 4 years’ ago following a speculative job application for a part time role when she left university.  From there, she has progressed to a full time project manager’s role, which gives her the unique opportunity to work with both The Royal Opera and The Royal Ballet.

Chloe was able to outline some of the history of the buildings situated in Covent Garden.  She then regaled us with fascinating snippets of the work of the various departments (1,500 full time staff are employed plus a whole range of part timers), artists’ training, how the various practice rooms are used (the building has 9 floors), performers’ practice schedules (ballet dancers are contracted for a 6 day week, including daily practice and a number of weekly performances), rehearsal schedules, scene changing several times a day and not to mention the licensed armoury!

Chloe brought along some costumes to show us (see picture above).  Both are several years’ old as they are cleaned, refurbished and reused each time a production is performed over the years.  She also brought along several pairs of ballet shoes, describing how the dancers sew on their own ribbons and elastic, as well as bashing them to soften them.  Lead dancers can get through 3 pairs in one performance!  Chloe also had special permission to bring a range of daggers and a sword used in performances.

We watched several, short videos during the talk and these can be seen on U Tube.  You can also check out the comprehensive Royal Opera House website and maybe plan to visit some open sessions: World Ballet DayInsights at the Royal Opera House and Orchestra of the Royal Opera House.